‘This fucking heatwave.’
Sweat itches David’s beard,
wished he’d had a shave.
Black spider kicks up dust,
dropping from his leathered arm
to crack earth’s fragile crust.
But in God we trust.
Only the hardy remain
but changed just the same,
withered and bowed
like poorly assembled skeletons.
Their roots searching deeper
and deeper all the time
against a villain-less crime.
The heifer lays breathing distress,
overcome by weakness.
Side by side they stand looking down
thinking ‘there’s one less’.
David moves forward,
lucerne in his hand but his father stops him.
No argument, it was only ever a whim.
Mother lying in hospital
breathing from one-half lung.
Smoke still blown into his face
by his best mates.
Her colour runs away
like dye in the laundry.
A shame, she’s not long left her forties.
Family photos grown dusty
on a hospital bedside table.
(Condition in decline but stable).
A fraction of her life
held in recollections.
The rest, the parts she keeps to herself,
forever restricted sections.
Daughter bouncing up and down
on the bed,
endlessly forgetting the last thing she said.
All her books have a happy end
where rules of reality bend, and break.
Sees the cattle’s ribs, tells her daddy
sees the dogs ribs, tells her daddy they’re hungry.
knows they’re all in it together
holding on as tight as each other.
Natural disaster, a great leveller.
Sees a wombat dead on the road,
wheel marks over its spine.
‘Why can’t people take their time?’
A baby and a dog alone in a car
while the mercury surges
and a man shops,
his thoughts absent of how they are.
Glass crystal scatters
from a rock, solid blow.
Prisoners freed, muscles drained, moving slow.
A slight paunch
only the arrogant possess.
‘What the fuck are you doing with my child?’
As rainclouds join the sky, come to bless.
David closes his eyes but he may as well be looking directly at the sun. His vision swims with red as rage fires out into every nerve ending. A ringing starts up in his ears, blocking all other noise out. He opens his eyes and hits the man in the jaw, knocking him down. As the man tries to rise David grabs his shirt and punches him again, breaking his nose in a burst of blood. The man is helpless and David hits him again. He could kill him. He wants to. He wants to keep hitting and hammering away until the man’s body is mush, until his soul is gone. The man’s very existence is tearing at the fabric which keeps David believing everything is going to be okay. He is dragged off before he can do too much damage. Although three fury-filled hits have been enough to leave the man in a mess. Nose squashed, lips split, darkening eyes, a broken jaw to round it out. Whether it was because of the commotion or he was still feeling ill, the baby boy is crying again and David can’t help thinking, looking at screwed-up anguished eyes, he’s made a terrible mistake.